2015 Kids Adventure Games returns to Vail with biking, ziplines and more
Special to the Daily
2015 Kids Adventure Games
What: A mountain obstacle course race for kids ages 6-14
Where: Vail Mountain
When: Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 5-9
Cost: Sold out
Registration for the Keen Family Mud Race on Saturday, Aug. 8 is still open. The cost for kids is $10 pre-registration and $15 on-site. Adult entry is $20 pre-registration and $25 on-site. To register for the mud run visit, http://vailrec.com/youth-activities/youth-activities-kids-adventure-race. For more information on the entire race series, check out www.kidsadventuregames.com.
It seems that obstacle course-style races like the Tough Mudder and Spartan Race are all the rage these days, but most only cater to adults. But what about events for kids who want to climb over walls and crawl through mud but aren’t quite ready for a grueling, adult-oriented race?
In 2009, this call was answered with the Kids Adventure Games at Vail Mountain. Now in its sixth year, the Games return to Vail this weekend for a kids mountain obstacle course like no other. With over three miles of biking, hiking, ziplining, rock climbing, slip-n-slides, mud pits and more, it should be one wild race.
“The idea behind the Kids Adventure Games was to create an event that gets kids outside, without technology, engaging with the outdoors, challenging themselves physically and emotionally and feeling a huge sense of accomplishment when they cross the finish line,” said race co-founder and director Billy Mattison. “The race emphasizes teamwork, problem solving and overcoming obstacles.”
Unlike a typical road race, everyone competes with one partner. This provides an element of teamwork and great camaraderie throughout. The format’s popularity is proven by the fact that this year’s race is already sold out, with over 380 teams and 760 kids participating.
“Working as a team is crucial … it’s an adventure for kids to grow as a team,” said Vail recreation marketing director Jamie Gunion. “For example, the bike section is pretty steep … I once saw a competitor who was stronger than his teammate finish and then run back down the hill to help his buddy out.”
Nine-year old William Remias of Breckenridge is entering his third year running the race. Remias has teamed up with his best friend each year, nine-year old Finn Schroder — experiencing success both times. They didn’t finish first, but had a great time anyway.
“We just relax and look at the problem and take our time, because it’s all about having fun,” explained Schroder.
Their care-free attitude helped the Summit twosome escape many difficult portions of the race unscathed. For kids, it’s important to have someone lift them up when the tough gets going, which is exactly why a teammate is needed in a race that can take anywhere from 40 minutes to two hours.
“I had some trouble with the zip line, but Finn helped me get through it,” said Remias.
In contrast, Schroder had more trouble with the slip-n-slide section.
“When I got to the bottom of it, it was hard to move. But, William said ‘take a deep breath’ and then he pulled me out,” he explained.
Parents are not allowed to help or participate in the race, but they can watch and cheer their children on as they crawl through cargo nets and cascade over babbling creeks on high-flying rope swings. The lack of parental assistance forces a child to be independent.
“It allows the child to explore adventure on their own terms … it’s less-competitive and more about youth development,” said Finn’s dad, Dan Schroder. “It was so much fun watching them work together as a team … smiling through the entire event, using verbal cues and waiting for each other.”
The games feature three different races spread out over the weekend, ranging from beginner to expert levels. With a different course for each level, there is ample opportunity for any kid to have success — no matter their prior experience. By the time most kids reach the finish line, a smile has etched their brow, along with a look of sheer exhaustion.
“Everyone is so tired but so excited … you’ll often see teams holding hands as they finish … the six-year olds are especially cute,” said Gunion.
One of the biggest thrills of the race is the element of surprise. Race organizers do not release course maps until shortly before the start, so racers have to be ready for almost anything the obstacle course throws at them. To prepare for this true adventure, teams must wear harnesses throughout, have a bike and helmet in-tow and a first-aid kit ready. These games are a perfect outlet for kids who are unafraid to go out of their comfort zones, and are true adventurers at heart.
“One of the things I’ve been most proud of is seeing Finn become more balanced and more confident. He doesn’t know what to expect, but he can now deal with it on the fly,” said Schroder.
“I just like sports and exploring, and this has both of those,” said Remias methodically.
After Saturday’s race, parents and the rest of the family can join in on the fun, with the KEEN Family Mud Run. Although the main Kids Adventure Games race is sold-out, this ancillary event has no limit for participation and is a great way for kids to challenge their siblings or just get out for one last adventure. According to Vail Recreation, race organizers will, “also have some ‘cool’ ways to wash off at the finish line.”
“It’s the perfect opportunity for those with more energy to burn. You get to wrestle with an inflatable alligator and you’re just coated with mud … All I saw were white eye-balls at the finish,” said Gunion with a laugh.
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